For the first time in seven years, Milos Raonic has not been named the Canadian male player of the year by Tennis Canada.
The federation announced that this year’s award has been given to 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov, who broke through by reaching the semis at the Masters 1000 in Montreal, defeating now No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro, and then reaching the fourth round of the US Open.
Raonic has won each year since 2011, and at No. 24 is still the highest ranked player in the country, but has been hurt frequently and dropped several positions from his career-high of No. 3 in the rankings.
“I’m truly humbled to be recognized as Tennis Canada’s male player of the year and to be given the opportunity to represent my country on the ATP tour and as a member of our Davis Cup team,” said Shapovalov in a statement.
It’s been a busy awards season for Shapovalov, who was also voted the ATP’s Most Improved Player and named the ATP ‘Star of Tomorrow.’
The former Grand Slam junior champion was aiming to reach the Top 150 this season, but is just a spot below the Top 50 in the rankings. He is next setting bigger goals.
“I definitely want to win an ATP tour title,” said Shapovalov while receiving his award at the ATP Finals. “And finish in the Top 25, if everything goes well.”
Shapovalov is being coached by Martin Laurendeau, who recently left his concurrent position as Davis Cup captain. Laurendeau said that Shapovalov and the 17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime are rising and will also become important Davis Cup players for Canada.
“Him and Felix are young and hungry and they want to be in the action,” Laurendeau said in a conference call for Tennis Canada, acknowledging that he stopped partly to give more attention to coaching Shapovalov. “Perhaps Denis’s pace was a bit of a catalyst, but it’s a long time to be captain in any team sport.”
Shapovalov started the season ranked No. 250 and got as high as No. 49 in the rankings. But following his big run in North America, he won just one match in his final four ATP events.
Shapovalov’s next scheduled tournament is the ATP event in Auckland.